Where many young musicians might make their mark with a war horse concerto by Mendelssohn, Bruch or Beethoven, Goosby instead assembled a sweeping recital program of works by Black composers — including a premiere written by the bassist Xavier Dubois Foley and first recordings of Florence Price discoveries — as well as by Dvorak and Gershwin, two white composers whose music on the album reveals an indebtedness to their Black peers.
On 25th June 2021, rising star violinist Randall Goosby releases Roots, an exploration of the music written by Black composers and inspired by Black American culture. The album is a homage to the pioneering musicians that paved the way for Goosby and his generation of young artists, and looks to the future, opening with a specially-commissioned work by New Jersey-based composer Xavier Dubois Foley.
The most sublime moments of this marvelous recital by violinist Randall Goosby and pianist Zhu Wang came in the Adagio of Brahms’s Violin Concerto No.3. It is Brahms at his most gracious, and Goosby and Wang performed its soothing melodies and suave harmonies to perfection.
Young American violinist Randall Goosby’s clear tone and limpid phrasing proved to be ideal in the BPO’s performance of Bologne’s Violin Concerto in G major, Op.8, no.2. Although Bologne’s music might not match Mozart’s genius, it still has much to offer, especially in the languid second movement, with Goosby’s unaffected, lyrical playing. A dramatic cadenza bridged the second to the third movement, a “rondeau”, in which the repeated main theme was separated by pauses between the intervening development. Goosby is a talent from whom we should hear much more.
His playing was transcendental. To borrow a phrase from C.S. Lewis, to listen to Goosby was to be surprised by joy. … Goosby’s tone walked a perfect balance between silky smooth and gutturally abrasive, conveying the piece’s tumultuous cavalcade of emotions with the expert precision normally associated with folk legends rather than real people. Whether delivering searing long notes or intricate speed runs, each note of Goosby’s performance stood alone as an individual work of art.
Going forward, Goosby hopes to inspire other Black people to explore classical music and thinks that continuing to work on pieces such as this and working with Black composers is the key. He admits that he feels he has been privileged to have been afforded the opportunities he has had, and he sees that as a responsibility.
Decca Classics has signed 24-year-old violinist Randall Goosby. His debut album, set for release next spring, will, according to a statement from the label, ‘journey across more than a century of African-American music for violin, tracing its roots in the spiritual through to the present day’, embracing composers including William Grant Still and Florence Price, plus newly commissioned music by composer and double-bass played Xavier Foley.
Violinist Randall Goosby and pianist Zhu Wang discuss their première performance of Beethoven’s masterpiece.
He had all the flash and speed one could want, but without sacrificing quality or expressivity. He handled the difficult, virtuosic passages and the lyrical slow movement themes with equal deftness.
Onstage, Mr. Goosby’s interesting mixture of charisma and humility makes him a young artist as pleasing to watch as to hear. His technique and tone have great appeal, and as for musicianship one could only imagine that his mentor, Itzhak Perlman (who was present this evening), has been a source of constant inspiration in Mr. Goosby’s artistic development.
The sonata is full of shifting moods and fleeting motivic ideas, to which Goosby and Wang were highly attentive, with dynamic contrasts to match; Goosby’s portamento in the “second subject” of the first movement hinted at Ravel. The mercurial second movement showed Goosby as the Perlman protégé he is, with a commanding bowing arm and exceptional articulation (though his pizzicati sometimes didn’t project that well). When it wasn’t swirling with activity, the finale was smoky and sultry. On the whole, while it’s clear that Goosby and Wang had a clear grasp of what this sonata is about, it will take a little more time in the cooker to refine the tone to match the composer’s intentions.